Visiting Flores in December 2010

At the beginning of last month, Tom and I spent 10 days in Honduras. Our main objective was completing the process of obtaining Astrid Ordonez’ medical visa. Ana Hernandez had already started the process by obtaining Astrid’s passport and visiting the lawyer with Astrid’s parents (to give temporary legal custody to us). We needed to complete the new online application (a more taxing process)  for the U.S. Embassy interview. Peggy Kipps (Ruth Paz Foundation) assisted us with arranging the appointment and writing a letter of support.With their help, we were able to have Astrid’s visa expedited.

During our time in Honduras, we spent time at the Centro de Salud (Health Center) and donated our generous supplies provided by Brother’s Brother Foundation. The medications were primarily antibiotics, and were so enthusiastically received by this clinic which exists on very limited means.

There were many new cases anxiously awaiting Tom’s arrival. Two of the children had cerebral palsy, and were hoping for a “cure” so that their children would walk. Sadly, families are often given very limited information from the doctors, and Tom spent a long time with each mother, compassionately describing their conditions and what to expect for their future development. He strongly encouraged them to have their children involved with physical therapy, and also told them that children with C.P. are often not effected (negatively) intellectually. On a brighter note, one of our patients, 12 year old, “Iris Maria” , who has C.P. has made dramatic improvement! Maria had stopped attending school, and was confined to her home and carried from her bed to the living room. Through therapy and hard work, she is now up walking and attending school. One afternoon, she and her family walked to our home and proudly presented us with a letter of gratitude and told us her dream is to study to become a lawyer! Tom and I were filled with tears of joy.

One evening, Ana arrived with a young couple and their 6 month old baby. The family had just been told that their baby was in need of cardiac surgery and they were consumed by fear and helplessness. Tom reviewed the medical reports and assured them he would talk with Hector Fonseca, a trusted cardiologist in San Pedro Sula. We feel very fortunate that our network has grown and we have professionals to refer patients locally. Dr. Fonseca was extremely accommodating and saw this child the following day. It was a great relief when he told the parents that “Adrianna’s” condition could be treated with medication and the child did not need surgery. Since then, the child has returned to Dr. Fonsecaand made dramatic improvement. Dr. Fonseca expressed his frustration about incompetent Honduran doctors who dispense incorrect diagnosis/treatment.

Unfortunately, our village of Flores has become more dangerous. In the past, it was the cities where you needed to be very cautious, but it is now seeping into the little barrios.

Flores is divided by a two-lane highway, and on one side there is a real discrepancy of services…the public school located there does not have electricity, the classes are over crowded, and there is no playground. There is no access to clean water.

Astrid’s mother and little brother live in the heart of the worst area. For several years, it has been on our “wish list” for Esperanza to help this desperately poor family. who live in squalor conditions, to improve their living situation. Astrid’s grandfather has donated a tiny piece of land for us to begin building a new home for this family. Construction is under way for the first phase of building two bedrooms and an indoor bathroom.

Astrid’s life is being positively effected in many ways. Besides having a new place to live, she has been sponsored by Charlie and Nancy Morrison of Concord, to attend a bilingual school in Comayagua. This would be an incredible opportunity for any child, but is even more important for Astrid because her neighborhood school is located in the drug area. It is so dangerous, we were not allowed to visit it, even during the day light hours. Astrid’s teacher is thoroughly impressed by Astrid’s rapid learning and her future is looking brighter!

Astrid was admitted to Shriners Hospital for Children in Springfield, MA. on December 28th and had surgery the following day. Four years ago, Astrid was operated there for a “tethered” (spinal) cord. She had her first of two operations on her left, “cavus” foot. Currently, Astrid’s mobility is impaired by this foot deformity. The next surgery is scheduled for January 11th, when they will cut through the bone and re-shape her foot. Following surgery, she will be non-weight bearing for eight weeks (wheelchair and walker). It will be a long winter, but we are so grateful for this opportunity and very thankful to David Dvaric, M.D. and all the wonderful doctors/staff for providing her care.

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